Early Review: Shadowfell (Shadowfell #1) by Juliet Marillier

September 8, 2012 Review 2

*This title will be released on September 11, 2012*


(Shadowfell, #1)
by Juliet Marillier

Genre: Fantasy YA |
Excerpt: Yes | Book Trailer: No Reviewed by: Julia | Source: Netgalley

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; September 11, 2012
  • ISBN-10: 0375869549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375869549


Excellent – Loved it! Buy it now & put this author on your watch list.

Sexual Content



Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill—a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk—Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec.

During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death—but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban’s release from Keldec’s rule.

Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.


SHADOWFELL is the long, sweet build-up of what promises to be a fantastic adventure.  Though Neryn starts the book as a dependent, subject to her father’s whims, she very quickly emerges as a strong, kind-hearted heroine with a surprising capacity for saying “no”.

To me it soon became apparent that this stubbornness is rooted in mistrust, which means I never grew impatient with her unwillingness to accept help. Both human and uncanny, the people of Alban are so abused and tormented by their king that very few have the luxury of offering any sort of kindness.  Even more so, in classic fairy tale fashion, even if contact with The Good Folk hadn’t been forbidden by law it pays to be wary and careful of interactions with uncanny creatures.  I liked the uncertainty of not knowing if Neryn would was making the right decisions along her journey.  In matters of generosity, Neryn is the typical heroine with a heart of gold.  In matters of courage, however, she must navigate the fine line between kindness and foolhardiness, bravery and pigheadedness, and forgiveness and naiveté.  In a vacuum Neryn leans towards the Mary Sue end of the spectrum, but Marillier’s exploration of how armed conflict impacts communities and individuals brings nuance and tenderness to the relationships in this story.

I have long been a fan of Marillier’s books and SHADOWFELL is no exception.  This book does suffer a bit from being the first of a series, as it feels like Marillier was saving some events and character growth for future books.  Over all, however, Marillier’s brand of magic and romance translates beautifully to Young Adult, and I can’t wait to follow this new young heroine on the next phase of her journey.

Similar Titles

Would you like to be reviewed on All Things Urban Fantasy? Request a Review

2 Responses to “Early Review: Shadowfell (Shadowfell #1) by Juliet Marillier”

  1. [email protected]

    This was my first read of Marillier’s, I did really enjoy her writing. I agree that this one felt more like a stepping stone to future installments of the series. I found this one slow but the characters were interesting enough to keep my moving ahead with the series, I think.

    • Julia

      Marillier has written series in the past, but I remember them being more like inter-related stand alone books than this. SHADOWFELL’s ending isn’t particularly satisfying on it’s own, but it sets up characters and a world that I’m eager to continue with. Doesn’t it feel like a lot of the build up could have been condensed and tacked on to the adventure of one of the future books?